Italian Pavilion 57th International Art Exhibition of
La Biennale di Venezia
May 13 – November 26, 2017 – Il mondo magico
curated by Cecilia Alemani, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Roberto Cuoghi, Adelita Husni-Bey
Director-General, DGAAP and
Italian Pavilion Commissioner Federica Galloni
Il mondo magico, curated by Cecilia Alemani, presents the work and research of three Italian artists—Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Roberto Cuoghi, and Adelita Husni-Bey—who show a new faith in the transformative power of the
imagination and an interest in magic. Through myriad references to fancy, fantasy, and fable, they turn art into a tool for inhabiting the world in all its richness and multiplicity.
The title of the exhibition is borrowed from the book Il mondo magico by Neapolitan scholar Ernesto de Martino, who conducted seminal research into the anthropological function of magic. De Martino spent years studying a range of rituals, describing them as devices through which individuals try to regain control in times of uncertainty and reassert their presence in the world. Il mondo magico, written during World War II and published in 1948, ushered in a series of reflections and analyses of a body of beliefs, rites and myths which de Martino continued to explore for decades, as one can see from both his “Southern” trilogy (Morte e pianto rituale, Sud e Magia, La terra del rimorso) and the collection of writings posthumously published as La fine del mondo.
Within the landscape of contemporary Italian art, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Roberto Cuoghi, and Adelita Husni-Bey use magic as a cognitive and expressive device for reconstructing reality, forging complex personal cosmologies. These three artists see themselves not just as fabricators of artworks, but as active interpreters and creators of
the world, which they reinvent through magic and the imagination.
For Andreotta Calò, Cuoghi, and Husni-Bey, magic is not an escape into the depths of irrationality so much as a new way of experiencing reality. They do not share any particular stylistic tendency, but rather the impulse to develop complex aesthetic universes that eschew the documentary-style narrative found in much recent art, relying instead on a form of storytelling woven from myths, rituals, beliefs, and fairy tales. Il mondo magico therefore sees the artist not just as a fabricator of works and objects, but above all a guide,interpreter, and creator of possible worlds.
Like the rituals described by de Martino, the works of Andreotta Calò, Cuoghi, and Husni-Bey present situations of crisis that are resolved through processes of aesthetic and ecstatic transfiguration. If one looks closely, these works offer up the image of a country—both real and fanciful—where ancient traditions coexist with new global languages and vernaculars, and where reality and imagination melt together into a magical new world.
Top Image: Photo by Italo Rondinella – Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia